KARL KENDRICK T. CHUA
NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
55th SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT
25-29 APRIL 2022
THEME: POPULATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, IN PARTICULAR SUSTAINED AND INCLUSIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH
Mr. Chair, Excellencies, the Government of the Philippines strongly reiterates its commitment to accelerate inclusive economic growth, aided by the ICPD Program of Action.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines had made significant progress in achieving the goals of the ICPD. Supported by strong macro-fiscal foundations, we almost doubled, as a share of GDP, our investments in infrastructure and human capital development between 2010 and 2019. Through the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, we granted universal access to nearly all modern contraceptives at government health centers. The use of modern contraception among married women increased from 37.6 percent in 2013 to 40.4 percent in 2017.
Through the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, we shifted from a 10-year to a 13-year basic education system. This will allow us to realize better social and economic outcomes for our children. In 2019, we expanded healthcare access and coverage for all Filipinos through the enactment of the Universal Health Care Act, funded by higher excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and e-cigarettes.
All of these have contributed to significant poverty reduction. In 2018, poverty incidence fell by almost 7 percentage points, the biggest decline in our history, or from 23.5 percent in 2015 to 16.7 percent, lifting six million Filipinos out of poverty four years ahead of the target schedule of 2022.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted our progress. In 2020, people’s incomes and jobs were significantly affected by the pandemic and stringent quarantines.
The pandemic was a litmus test on the resilience of our systems and institutions. Quarantines and mobility restrictions exacerbated inequalities and temporarily increased unemployment. While COVID-19 tested our resolve to pursue the ICPD Program of Action, we did not waver in our goal to build a stronger and more inclusive society.
Amid the pandemic, we accelerated the implementation of the Philippine Identification System to provide every Filipino with a unique and digitalized proof of identity. From October 2020 to April 2022, we have registered over 62 million Filipinos to the national ID and facilitated over 7.7 million bank account applications for low-income individuals. This will transform how we deliver social assistance and financial inclusion, and help lift more Filipinos out of poverty.
After a temporary decline in 2020, the Philippine economy took a positive turn in 2021 and grew by 5.7 percent, exceeding market expectations. This robust growth was supported by the success of the country’s vaccination program, which allowed us the full reopening of the economy. The estimated total fertility rate has been consistently on a downward trend in the past two decades and was recorded at 1.8 children in 2021.
Finally, as we move forward from this crisis, we need to put the poor and vulnerable more at the center of our development strategies. In the succeeding Philippine Development Plan, we intend to prioritize smart infrastructure, regional equity, innovation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation as the four pillars to help us achieve rapid and more inclusive growth.
The Philippines’ story is not unique as many economies have persevered to rebuild better and more inclusive systems. While progress is evident, we need to do more to create change that is truly transformative. To this end, strengthening regional cooperation is crucial. Together, let us work towards ensuring equal opportunities for all.